Yellow Split Pea Soup

Yellow split pea soup with Indian curry spices. Bright, flavorful, and filling! Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Photography Credit: Sheryl Julian and Emma Christensen

As winter soups go, split pea is definitely in the stick-to-your-ribs category.

Recently, I discovered that green split peas also come in a yellow variety. Simmer these along with a handful of Indian spices, and you have a bright, filling vegetarian supper.

Yellow Split Pea SoupLook for yellow split peas at any well-stocked grocery store, especially one with a good selection of Indian ingredients.

Develop the flavor in this simple soup by cooking some onion, celery, garlic, and fresh ginger in the pot before adding the spices (turmeric, cumin, and coriander!).

Stir the yellow peas into the mixture, then let this soup simmer for a full hour and a half.

The peas grow in the pot (and they thicken even more if you store the soup overnight), so add more water whenever you need to maintain a soupy consistency.

Soup should nourish and warm you in the chilly months. Bowls of yellow split peas, garnished with yogurt or sour cream, a sprinkle of cilantro, and pepitas for salty crunch, fill the belly in the most pleasant way.

Yellow Split Pea Soup Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 pound (2 1/4 cups) yellow split peas
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) water, or more if needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream, to serve (optional; omit if making a vegan soup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, to serve
  • 3 tablespoons roasted, salted pepitas, to serve

Method

1 Cook the root vegetables and seasonings: In a soup pot over medium heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, until the onions are looking translucent and softened.

2 Add the hot pepper and spices: Stir in the jalapeno or other hot pepper, turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

3 Stir in the split peas. Continue stirring until they are coated all over with spices.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

4 Pour in the water and bring to a boil, stirring. Add the bay leaf and lemon juice.

5 Simmer the soup: Cover the pot and let the soup bubble gently for 1 1/2 hours, until most of the split peas have fallen apart and are tender. Stir the soup occasionally, and add more water if the soup seems too thick.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

6 Taste the soup for seasoning: Add more salt, black pepper, or lemon juice, if you like.

7 Serve the soup: Ladle into bowls and garnish with yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, and pepitas.

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Sheryl Julian

Sheryl Julian is an award-winning writer, editor, and food stylist. She is the former food editor of The Boston Globe, co-author of The Way We Cook, and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook. Her food sections won Best Newspaper Food Coverage from the Association of Food Journalists in 2015.

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Showing 4 of 8 Comments

  • Mike

    Tried thus, but split peas remained too hard even after hours of cooking. Did anyone else have this problem?

  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

    Looks delicious :)

  • Chad

    I love split pea soup and always think I need a ham bone to make it. Now Minus the yogurt/sour cream I have another recipe to serve with my Vegan friends . Thanks, Sheryl

  • Liz

    Beautiful and what a wonderful spice mix!

    I learned of yellow split peas eating kitchari on an Ayurvedic “cleanse” … really a resting of the system since kitchari (yellow split peas & rice) is nutritionally complete but very easy to digest. At any rate, I was surprised how much I liked it as well as how good I felt.

    I’m looking forward to trying this soup – thank you!

  • Sara @ Last Night's Feast

    This looks so delicious and vibrant!

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